There is always this week. Garry George shows up outside of Maxwell Savage with a pallet of bricks, a saw to cut through asphalt, a shovel and some fine grit fill. On each brick is the name of a member of the class of 2018. The ground is prepared, the bricks are set, the tamping is done, and by the end of the day the new section of walk is complete. Seniors start to drift by and pause to look for their name and the names of friends. It’s one of the rituals in the final week.
We have these markers for the end of the year: the bricks, the last games, the art show, Jazz-Rock, the musical, the final presentations. The days which seemed to stretch forever in February are suddenly moving too quickly and there is no brake lever to pull. The lilacs and apple trees rush through their blooming. Can’t we slow it down? Savor these last moments? Why does time have to play such tricks with its variable constancy? We could benefit from another week, a few more days of lingering lunches outside of the dining commons, another polar swim, one more tennis match, another painting, one more lacrosse game. Maybe even a few more classes of algebra or neuroscience or U.S. history. Yes, even those. Why does time have to rush so at the end of the year?
We feel the invisible threads of community. They tug us. We see the inevitable end of the school year. Yes, we wanted summer in January, but we also want to hang on to what we have, that ineffable sense of place at this time in the bright final days of the year. When we have less of a thing, we want it more. Even with all of its imperfections, its hardships, its emotional whipsaws, we want a little more of this year. We have been through a passage, shared time together, built something together. As in a theater scene shop, the set of the year has taken its shape slowly, the arc of the play emerges through rehearsals, and we know that like the musical the year will complete its run. The theater will empty and the set will be broken down. Couldn’t we enjoy the coalescing for just a little longer?
There are two geographical high points on the campus: the bulkhead and the top of the ski area. I like to get to both of them in the final week of school and made the first, shorter run up the single track to the top of the ski hill yesterday evening. At the top of the t-bar line, I look across the valley at the campus and the town of Andover and take in my favorite trail sign on the little big mountain: Most Difficult. The sign always seems to transpose over the campus and community below. It doesn’t say most easy or most impossible. I play a quick game, imagining a string of words that could follow most, but after a minute or two of this indulgence, I simply look at the ball field, the Learning Center, the Dining Commons, the scattering of Proctor buildings that make up its sum. I think of all the students, faculty, and staff. I appreciate.
It’s bittersweet, this final stretch, but it is also affirmation of the possible, when maybe and might are swept aside for what simply is. In the end, as we must, we take the flow of time for what it is: the endless blossom of moments. We read the names on the bricks, we go to the art show and the musical, we tuck into the last tasks knowing that 2017-18 is winding down all too quickly. We savor the last days.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School